How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger

Not every room in your house is built to spacious dimensions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it look bigger than it actually is. The human mind is complex and intricate, but it can still be fooled by cleverly used optical illusions. Working with these psychological hiccups will allow you to make a small room seem much larger than it actually is.

Paint Using Colors that Create Focus Points

Before any of the furniture arrives, take a look at your walls and imagine all of the possibilities you can make from simply painting them. When it comes to tricking the mind, the color hues, shades, and tints you use can make a surprising amount of difference. Our eyes take in a lot of sensory details, so many in fact that not all of them register in your brain at once.

Our brains rely on learned patterns of different shapes and sizes, so that basic images pass through our head without giving them too much of a second thought. This sort of laziness keeps us from getting totally overwhelmed at every turn, but you, as a smart designer can use this little trick to your advantage. Comforting disorientation is key.

You have two ways to accomplish this: color-mood relationships and staggered shading.

Colors and You

You may have noticed that certain colors bring out different emotions or levels of energy within you. Red roses are considered romantic, yellow sunflowers are usually seen around happy children playing in a field. These instances are just two examples of the power color associations have over us. Different colors correspond with different levels of energy.

Loud” colors (such as red, yellow, and light green) are loud because they hit our eyes with more light energy, so we focus more on them than our surroundings. Softer, subdued, and cooler colors like blue and purple have longer wavelengths, making us fixate on them less.

What does this have to do with size? Well, if warmer colors make us more energetic and fixated, cooler colors inspire our minds to be lazy. We aren’t as fixated on exactly where those colors lie. It takes the eyes longer to register the distance of cooler colors. The longer it takes to register, the further away people will think the space extends.

Use Multiple Shades of the Same Color

Now that you’re more aware of how the drastic differences between loud and soft colors, you can now move on to more practical applications involving colors and light. One of the biggest differences you can make is placing different shades of the same color at various parts of your room. If you have walls made uneven by chimneys or columns, it may seem impossible to blend these protruding surfaces into the background. However, a clever mind can fool all…

If you do have certain surfaces that extend out from the general wall surface, paint them in a slightly lighter shade, while painting the wall behind in slightly darker shades. The eye is tricked because it’s trying to form a reference point with one color, but the other color takes longer to register. This makes it seem like the pieces of wall which are slightly further away are actually even further away.

Even if you’re working with level walls, dramatic visual effects can be produced by a simple nudge of shades, tints, and hues. If there is a window in the room, paint that wall as well as the opposite one in lighter shades, while painting the other two walls slightly darker. This way, the darker walls will seem much more distant.

Choosing the Right Furniture

Placing the right furniture with appropriate color schemes can also pack a wallop. The two keys to utilizing the right furniture are size and amount.

With all of the cool colors and subtle shading, everyone’s eyes will be looking for something else to form a point of reference. To continue this little plot along, you should try to keep furniture sizes big, but have less pieces in the room as a whole. Again, all of these tactics are being used to make the mind lazier and less able to distinguish size and distance.

Placing too many pieces of furniture in your room gives the eyes too many possibilities to better judge distances. You’ll also notice that having more pieces in the room requires more thought in avoiding them. Placing too many knickknacks or keepsakes on the walls is another thing to avoid; these will basically break the optical illusion you lulled them in to with proper colors and shading.

Mirrors in a small room

Mirrors in a small room reflect light, bringing attention to all corners of the room, and creating the illusion of a more spacious room. (CC BY 2.0)

Use Mirrors to Expand the Area of the Room Exponentially

Mirrors get the top marks in the space trickery department. Think about it: a mirror makes it seem like there is a whole new world beyond the looking glass. One mirror alone makes a difference, but placing two mirrors opposite each other adds space almost exponentially. If you miss all other tips, definitely don’t miss the mirrors. They are your partners in crime when it comes to fumbling the senses of onlookers.

The End Result

If all of the references to “tricks” above make you uneasy, not to worry! In this case, your brain will thank you for being tricked. Cooler colors and less frames of reference helps our minds turn off, unwind, and rest. In the end, there are several ways that work very well to make a small room, be it a bedroom or small living room, look and feel much better than it actually is.

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